Monday, May 07, 2007

David Bullard hits nail on head

David Bullard has evoked a fire storm in the South African Blogosphere (see here, here and here for examples) with his column in the Sunday Times yesterday in which he stated that Blogs are generally of a very low quality:

They’re cobbled together by people who wouldn’t stand a hope in hell of getting a job in journalism, mainly because they have very little to say. It’s rather sad how many people think the tedious minutiae of their lives will be of any interest to anyone else.

Can’t see what is wrong with that statement. Bullard seems to be rather kind, actually. Because I have been mad enough to start a Blog myself, I have recently been exposed to other Blogs and most of it is tedious drivel. Its mostly, (white people’s) conventional wisdom and communal prejudices dressed up as opinion and analysis.

People have a right to share their pearls of wisdom with the world, but surely the rest of us have a right not to take it too seriously. Let’s face it, my Dean of research is not going to award me research points for the finger exercises on this Blog because it is not serious writing.

On one count Bullard does get it wrong. He claims that the content in the Sunday Times is of a certain quality because it has been through editing processes. But one only has to skim that newspapers pages to be made aware of the sorry state of journalism in South Africa. Sometimes I wonder whether those people get paid to write so badly about such brain curdling boring issues. The New York Times it ain’t.


Anonymous said...

The problem with that statement is very clear in my opinion. Many, many bloggers are trained and qualified journalists. His very own online strategist is a blogger. The MG online editor and strategist are both bloggers. I can name 10 offhand who are trained/qualified/practicing journalists who are being paid to blog and to be journalists.

Anonymous said...

The barriers to entry for online publishing are almost non-existent. This allows a lot of self-referential rubbish to be published by non-entities. But, it also allows a lot of knowledgable people to write and publish. In the US the best bloggers are experts in their fields. Before online came along, the gate keepers in our English-language press controlled what could and could not be put out into the public domain. I think SA is one of the few countries in the world, where one can already find better writing online than one does in the mainstream press.

Anonymous said...

Another issue with labelling blogs as trash is that it discourages people from blogging and I don't that is a good thing on the whole. Not everyone writes well and that doesn't mean those people don't have anything to contribute to the community. Bullard has a pretty limited view of blogs and blogging and that is unfortunate. I would hate to see Bullard's characterisation of blogs become the general perception though because it isn't accurate.

Champagne Heathen said...

I completely agree with you, on both counts.

Paul - if people are so short-sighted to base their opinion of blogging on a single column by sarcastic grumpt D.Bullard, then surely we'd prefer not to have them on the blogging medium? Rather, maybe we should only encourage readers/bloggers who can think for themselves, & who can make decent arguments.

protocolinpractice said...

True lots of blogs are trash, but so is much of what we read in the print media.
At least with the news aggregators like Amatomu and Afrigator - things can be sorted a little and people can find blogs in their categories of interests that they like to read.
I hope people aren't put off blogging because a snippy old columnist decided to have a go at the Blogging world.
I've picked up some of the best and most interesting information from blogs and some are a heluva read.

Casper said...

Caveat Legens
Firstly if Mr. Ballard wants to submerge himself into the blogsphere he has only himself to blame for what he finds there. Secondly if he wants to criticise, he has that option. He also has the right to do nothing. Of course doing nothing and complaining about it seems to one of those quintessential South African traits. He is of course right in that there are the usual band of perverts, freaks, racists and, in at least one case, cannibals out there. There are also scholars, thinkers, philosophers, journalists, sages and poets. But you would probably fall asleep reading about Uncle Bob's boring day at the retirement home first. But then thats Uncle Bob's freedom. Of course in Mr. Ballards last waking moment he might give Uncle Bob some constructive criticism. But that makes poor copy I guess.

Pierre de Vos said...

I sort of agree with some of your comments: the great thing about Blogs is that it allows for a cacophony of voices so it makes censorship very difficult. This means one will have a lot of rubbish but also some great stuff. It just takes time to wade through the rubbish to get to the rough diamonds!

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